I’m with a friend in a restaurant in Greece. On the next table there’s a family on holiday – two children with their parents. The kids are on their iPhones and the parents are on their BlackBerrys. None of them is looking at the others. The boy says to his sister, “What are you ordering?” She shouts back, “I’ve just texted you.” The dad says, “Keep your voice down” while still looking at his BlackBerry, so it doesn’t have much impact.
I look around the restaurant. There are 15 people in here and everyone is on their fruit phones, my pads and laptops. Soon there will be no need for real friends and family, or the burden of conversation. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in a restaurant and see a couple sitting in silence, just staring at each other, with nothing to say. Now they don’t need to worry – they can talk to Michael Caine on Facebook.
I go back to my hotel and decide to Skype my mum to say, “Happy Eid.” I’m talking to her on the computer when I get a text from my dad, so I pick up the phone to read it. Then I hear Mum shouting, “Are you listening to me? What else are you doing? Are you washing up?”
Then I hear her other phone ring, and she starts talking to me and my brother at the same time. I thought, I’m not having a three-way, three-country conversation after all I’ve just said about the people in the restaurant. So I said goodbye to my mum, then logged on to Twitter to see what George Clooney’s doing.